Got muscle – got spirit! Christopher Senyonjo to Vanessa Brown – Justin Fashanu to Jason Collins: role models for Black LGBT striversPosted: June 29, 2013
ZP_Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, born 1932_In 2002 he was stripped of his bishopric by the Archbishop of The Church of Uganda (Anglican) for his LGBT rights sympathies. This heterosexual Man of the Lord continues to be vocal in support of the increasing clamour for human rights in Uganda, knowing that discrimination against gays is “neither in Jesus’ teachings nor is it an African way”.
ZP_One of the first “All-Embracing” American churches was Bishop Carl Bean’s The Unity Fellowship of Christ, back in 1982. Bean believed that “God is Love — and Love is for EVERYBODY.”
In this photograph Oliver Clyde Allen preaches at The Vision Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 2005 by Bishop Allen and his partner — now husband — Rashad Burgess (wearing striped tie), The Vision Church is described as being part of a “new progressive Pentecostal movement” and one of Vision’s core beliefs is “that the gospel of Jesus Christ cuts across all barriers that fragment and divide us. We are called to love, affirm, and welcome all people regardless of race, gender, affectional orientation, class, or life situation. We are to be known for our love, compassion, reconciliation, and liberation for all who are oppressed. We emphasize the “whosoever” in John 3:16.”
ZP_Poster for the January 2012 opening of The Good Life Church in Columbus, Ohio. An initiative of Pastor Michael W. Heard (left), the Church is an “affirming” one, and the preacher is often assisted in his ministry by boyfriend Aaron Leigh, the Church’s ‘First Gentleman’.
ZP_Congregants of Rivers at Rehoboth Church in Harlem, New York City_The Reverend Vanessa M. Brown, a lesbian born and raised in Harlem, states: “We want people to know that they are loved, there’s a safe space for them in the House of God where they can truly worship the Lord and be their authentic selves.” Many Black gays and lesbians feel welcomed at Rehoboth.
ZP_NBA basketball player Jason Collins on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine in May 2013. In April, Collins “came out”. He is the first active player in North-American professional sports to do so. Basketball is one of the most homophobic sports – hockey may be worse – and it’s the fans as much as anyone else. Yet reactions have been generally positive – helped enormously by high-profile heterosexual players such as Kobe Bryant giving Collins their public support. Homophobia is becoming less and less “cool”.
The brave pioneer was Justin Fashanu in soccer (he “came out” while playing professionally). There’s been John Amaechi in basketball (after his retirement), Wade Davis in football, Orlando Cruz in boxing – the list of “out” athletes – who are role models for youth, of course – will continue to grow.
ZP_Wade Davis_Davis’ “An Open Letter to Young Gay Athletes” was featured at http://www.thegrio.com on June 14th 2012. It is well worth reading…